Rails to Trails of Northwest Montana, a grassroots nonprofit, has paved approximately 22 miles of the Great Northern Rail Trail around Kalispell, from the town of Somers on the north shore of Flathead Lake, west to Kila bordering the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area. Much of the trail network is built on former Great Northern Railroad beds, perfect for walking or biking.
This paved trail through the heart of the Flathead Valley offers views of Swan, Mission, Salish and Whitefish mountain ranges. The tiny town of Somers at the trail's southern end point is located on the north shore of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. The town is the site of the former tie plant for Great Northern Railroad and the trail passes a diminutive community museum with a vintage steam locomotive situated outside. There’s a bike repair station close by. Stop at Somers Bay Café seven days a week for breakfast or lunch.
The trail travels north from Somers paralleling the highway then takes a left turn and meanders through pastoral scenery southwest of Kalispell, the largest community in the Flathead Valley. Watch for the turnoff west to Kila which will take you under the bridge and through a rural landscape to the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area. There’s a bike repair station at this end of the trail also. The trail passes directly behind the Kila Pub which opens in late afternoon (check seasonal hours).
The Rails to Trails network connects with the Highway 93 Bypass trail that leads to Kalispell’s north end, the location of Flathead Valley Community College, KidSports field complex and multiple box stores. The trail follows Reserve Drive East and loops back along Whitefish Stage to Lawrence Park near downtown Kalispell.